Polly and Nina (FIre and Hemlock, was Hexwood

Hallie O'Donovan hallieod at indigo.ie
Mon Feb 4 17:28:01 EST 2002


>>He does doesn't he? Isn't that horsey woman, Mary?,
>>another of
>>the same type? However I think something else is going
>>on here
>Not as sure. I don't think she is described as any more than horsey. 
>I pictured her with nondescript light brown hair. Mousey.

Kyla remembered right - Polly says that Mary's hair is the same 
colour as Laurel's.

>>  > Your comments did go a long way towards reconciling me to Tom's
>>  > "thing for fair-haired females", though.  The only sentence in that
>>  > whole book which consistently irks me is Tom's telling Polly that he
>>  > always loved her hair - just as he's about to be done in.  Somehow it's
>>  > now fallen into place as consistent with that whole idea of Polly,
>>  > Laurel and Ivy as aspects of the Three-Formed Goddess.  So Tom's
>>  > attraction to the Goddess is first misplaced in Laurel, his next one
>>  > gets it right.  I suppose it *could* also suggest an explanation for
>>  > Polly's puzzling mistaking of Laurel for Nina.  If another grouping of
>>  > three is Nina, Polly and Fiona, it could be the (physical) association
>>  > of Laurel and Polly transposed on the (non-physical) association of Nina
>>>  and Polly.  Maybe?
>>Another group of three is Polly, Ivy and Granny. I'm
>>going to have to read F&H again real soon....
>I'm having a hard time with the three-formed goddess idea, partly 
>because so much of the book is based in one-on-one interaction, 
>partly because there is no crone:

Hey, this is out of the DWJ essay in the Lion & Unicorn, not from me! 
The crone is Granny though.  I looked the essay up again for this, 
and have already forgotten some of them.

>Ivy is obviously the mother, Polly the maiden, and Laurel is 
>something else altogether.

This I found the most complicated - Ivy = mundane parasitical version 
of Laurel, Laurel "as the Lorelei in Suburbia", and Polly - an aspect 
of Laurel too, Laurel "as VEnus and the Fairy Queen.  The aspect that 
appears in Thomas the Rhymer, the good & beloved Queen that Thomas 
first mistakes for the Virgin Mary and then submits to."  Phew.

>There are certainly subsets of characters in her life, some in 
>threes, some twos, and the quartet is a four:
>Polly's two girl friends: Nina and Fiona

This is one triplet - Nina = silly, Polly learning all the time, and 
Fiona sensible  (again, that's the essay, not my interpretation)

>The two boys: Leslie and Sebastian

Oh, boy, the men are supposed to be arranged the same way.  This 
could be interesting - Tom, Leroy and Seb?  Reg, Leroy and Tom's 
brother (3 bad father figures?)  I'm sure there are far more 
interesting ones than that, but the brain is packing it in for the 

>Polly's three parents: Ivy, Reg and Granny.
>Tom's three loves: Laurel, Ann, and Polly

Oh, I dont' know that I'd buy that one - Mary do you mean?- don't you 
see her as pretty peripheral really?  If nothing else Tom says that 
was in large part to take the heat off Polly.

>The three fair-haired ones: Laurel, Ivy, and Polly.
>The quartet, variously named.
>The Quartet strikes me as a more important structure: A pair of 
>violins, a viola holding down the middle, and a cello on the bottom. 
>Not as stable a structure as a trio, but that does seem to me to be 
>the shape the whole book is based on (and she has professed Eliot's 
>"Three Quartets" as being one of her startign points.

One of a great multitude!  That essay just blows me away *every* time 
I read it.  I simply cannot believe all the references, allusions, 
influences, organising strategies etc.....


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